The National Bank of Egypt (NBE) was established in 1898 and is the oldest commercial bank as well as being one of the leading financial institutions in the country. Moreover, the bank has a pivotal role in boosting Egypt’s economy by supporting
several strategic economic sectors such as oil, energy and tourism. One of its main goals is to provide world-class banking services and products to its local and international clients, both public and private. However, with an aging IT infrastructure, the
bank’s management realized that there was a major need to modernize and completely overhaul its entire IT infrastructure. Taking this step would greatly increase the ability of the bank to respond quickly to the changing business demands of its clientele and
the financial market. Deploying several Microsoft technologies such as Windows Server 2012, where they were one of the first early adopter customers in Egypt, gave the bank a very powerful and highly scalable virtualization platform that allowed it to meet
and exceed its goals.
||Revamping our IT infrastructure into a modern and integrated system as well as combining several Microsoft technologies ensures that we have a solid and unified cloud computing solution that will greatly benefit the bank. We would
not have achieved this much success without the help of our implementing partner OMS
| Ihab Elwzan
Chief Information Officer
National Bank of Egypt
With more than 16,000 employees located throughout Egypt, including representative offices abroad covering South Africa, United Kingdom, United States, UAE, Sudan, and China, the National Bank of Egypt (NBE) provides a wide range of services and products to
its national and international customers. As one of Egypt’s leading financial institutions, NBE supports several economic sectors in the areas of oil, energy and tourism.
Because of its critical role in the national economy, the bank needed to respond quickly to changing demands from its clients and the market by being able to create and launch new business lines and products. It was also important for the bank that its customers
felt that they were getting first-class service. However, in order to meet the bank’s growing needs and be better aligned with their business objectives, NBE had to surmount numerous challenges.
For starters, the bank was using outdated technologies as well as an aging IT infrastructure. This was compounded by the fact that the company’s IT infrastructure was built in silos and were not fully aligned nor integrated with each other. This had a negative
impact in terms of loss of productivity since it affected the bank’s ability to deliver critical functions such as tellers in their branches due to the lack of an IT infrastructure management. The monthly maintenance and power costs were very high because
the company had several IT systems that needed to be supported and maintained.
The lack of better visibility with regards to the bank’s core systems also hampered the ability of the IT department to be proactive in dealing with issues.
“Because we had a fragmented IT infrastructure, we spent a lot of time and resources maintaining and monitoring our IT ecosystem instead of improving it. This was not an ideal situation and was very frustrating for everyone,” says as Systems Technical Support
Director Ahmed Rashad. “We realized that a way of addressing these challenges was to consolidate and drastically reduce the number of servers at the bank to a bare minimum. This would have the positive effect of making our IT infrastructure more efficient,
reduce operating costs and improve utilization of our existing resources. This would also be in step with the bank’s green IT policy.”
It was also important for the bank that it could create products and services that are relevant to the countries it was operating in while keeping down costs.
“In order to serve our customers better, we want to have operational flexibility. This means that we need to be able to set up environments quickly and efficiently in response to business requirements, be able to manage our resources dynamically and provide
faster server provisioning,” he added.
In order to tackle all these issues as well as provide the bank with a strong competitive edge, management recognized that the way forward was to embark on a revamping project that started in 2010 partnering with Microsoft by signing the First Enterprise
Agreement in June 2010 with the purpose of modernizing the bank’s IT ecosystem.
The bank engaged the services of OMS, a Microsoft Gold Partner and winner of the 2012 Microsoft Partner of the Year Award.
“We have worked with OMS in mission critical projects in the past. Their deep technical knowledge, high level of commitment, exceptional project delivery, and constant responsiveness to our challenging requirements are some of the reasons why we chose them.
Because of their outstanding track record, we had no doubt that OMS would be the most ideal partner for us,” says Ihab Elwzan, Chief Information Officer.
In order to measure and assess the maturity and capability of NBE’s IT organization, OMS utilized an optimization framework developed by Microsoft known as the Core Infrastructure Optimization Model. The purpose of this model is to help companies understand
their existing IT infrastructure with the aim of making it more secure, better-managed and dynamic. Doing so would help reduce overall IT costs, efficiently utilize IT resources and position IT as a strategic asset for the company. Furthermore, this model
seeks to fine tune and optimize a company’s IT infrastructure by eliminating unnecessary complexity and making it more agile.
||We realized that a way of addressing these challenges was to consolidate and drastically reduce the number of servers at the bank to a bare minimum. This would have the positive effect of making our IT infrastructure more efficient,
reduce operating costs and improve utilization of our existing resources. This would also be in step with the bank’s green IT policy.
| Ahmed Rashad
Systems Technical Support Director
National Bank of Egypt
Based on the results of this analysis and subsequent discussions with OMS, the bank’s management agreed that the most efficient way to modernize their IT infrastructure was to use a cloud solution using several Microsoft technologies.
The Bank with OMS then deployed 1,200 virtual servers for the bank’s applications and workloads, on more than 276 physical servers to act as hosts for NBE’s virtualized servers. Additionally, OMS started building the framework to provide a foundation for
managing desktops, operations, virtual machines as well as installing software updates, including a process for Zero Touch “refresh” of all Windows XP computers to Windows 7 across all computers in all locations throughout the company.
This approach greatly decreased the time required for the NBE Service Center team to deploy any desktop with all the required applications, since they were now using a standardized image for all the hardware models. This also gave the NBE Service Desk team
the capability to monitor the availability and performance of all virtual machines and operations at NBE and receiving an alert the moment an issue occurs.
Furthermore, OMS started building the Active Directory, Exchange and file service environment as well as ensuring that no data loss occur during migration. OMS also deployed 12,000 user desktops along with their applications and managed these through 7 Microsoft
System Center Configuration Manager server farms in main data centers, and created a master golden image for bank desktop deployment that can be used to install a fresh client. To ensure a proper handover, OMS trained NBE administrators to update the master
image in case any new hardware model or application is required.
Moreover, OMS consolidated all bank databases on 17 SQL servers in two data centers, and built a complete highly available Exchange server in the data centers with 10 MS Exchange Servers that serves 1,2000 mailboxes. Using a Microsoft System Center Operations
Manager (SCOM) farm consisting of 9 servers; 1,305 servers were monitored and managed.
OMS also implemented Microsoft Lync Server & Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 Unified Messaging (UM) to provide new communication services to the bank.
The revamping project has proven to be a resounding success for the company.
Business Continuity & Scalability
Microsoft solutions ensure high availability and a full disaster recovery site to foster their business continuity planning. Services are highly available now and downtime is minimal; providing a higher return on investment:
• Easier accommodation of increasing business needs and expansion requirements at the server level.
• Improved scalability and availability of on-demand applications to provide high business continuity.
Significant Cost Reduction
Using Microsoft virtualization, the company has cut costs through faster implementation of desktops, updates, applications and license keys, as well as reducing hardware and licensing costs. “By implementing a cloud solution, we have significantly lowered our
expenses in several areas such as direct PC support costs (22%), service desk costs (20%) and server management costs (43%), says Ihab Elwzan proudly.
Security, Confidentiality & Compliance
Adherence to security and compliance standards and policies. With active directory implementation to the latest standards, the bank ensured that all roles in NBE fall under group policy and ensured PCI compliance. Also, servers & clients compliance measures
were brought to latest security standards. The bank focused on file sharing technology to protect the bank data confidentiality & integrity. They implemented an Enhanced safety for sensitive information due to the faster and better security measures. SQL encryption
for data confidentiality was also implemented as an important part of PCI compliance.
Improved & Easier
NBE’s integrated IT infrastructure has made it possible for the company’s system administrators to manage their assigned application and servers from a centralized location via automated deployment from headquarters using Microsoft System Center Configuration
Manager. “It used to take us a lot of time and resources to manage the many independent systems that we had at the bank. Because of the cloud solution, it is now easy for us to monitor and track any issues in the system. Consequently, we have reduced unplanned
downtimes by 45%,” says Ihab Elwzan. To ensure proper and quick monitoring of all deployed servers and services, the company’s monitoring and alert system is fully integrated with their new IT infrastructure. This alerts the system administrators of any service
failure through email that is occurring in the system.
Increase Productivity & Efficiency
The total integration of the company’s IT ecosystem and automation of IT processes has made the system more efficient, allowing faster access to data and other information. The deployment of more services and features means that employees are now better equipped
to deal with their tasks. The project has proven to be a game changer for the firm. Basem Alsaeed, Chief Technology Officer is very happy with the results of the revamping project. “At NBE, we have always recognized the importance of having consistent and
updated information through the proper utilization of information technology. As one of the early adopters of Windows Server 2012, we have made certain that our company will be able to use all the benefits that cloud technology has to offer. This will certainly
mean that we can provide better products and services to our customers.”
“Revamping our IT infrastructure into a modern and integrated system as well as combining several Microsoft technologies ensures that we have a solid and unified cloud computing solution that will greatly benefit the bank. We would not have achieved this
much success without the help of our implementing partner OMS, “he adds.
To ensure minimal disruption to the business, the bank now has a test environment that is totally identical and separate from the production environment. This provides the IT department the ability to test any new service or updates without disrupting company
operations. “Having a test environment gives us the possibility to fully test new applications, updates and services without having to worry about affecting the business. This also gives us the opportunity to determine the proper time to deploy a solution,”
notes Ihab Elwzan, Chief Information Officer.
Operating System Standardization
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By unifying the operating system used at the bank, this gave the IT department the ability to test any new application in only one machine before deploying the software across the entire organization. “Because we were running on different operating systems
before this project, there was a strong possibility that a user’s PC would crash whenever we deployed a new application. Fortunately, we can now reduce this risk by testing new software in a test machine before uploading it to other PCs.”